Fringe is one of my favorite shows to watch these days, although I want to stick my finger down my throat when my wife says, “Whew, Joshua Jackson…” I cannot help but think of the plotline and relate it to the church. For those of you who are not familiar with the plot line, there are two universes. In universe one, Walter lost his young son to a disease he was trying to cure, for he is a genius scientist. After losing his son Peter, Walter creates a portal that can peer into another universe. You have to keep in mind that the creators of Fringe are also the creator of LOST. So it is easy to get lost in the plotline. However, I cannot help but relate the whole idea of peering into another universe to what the church does as it lives on mission in this world.
The Bible teaches that God is in the process of redeeming and restoring his fallen created order, or his kingdom. Colossians 1:20 Paul writes, “and through him (Jesus) to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven , making peace by the blood of his cross.” I highlight this verse for the simply fact that God is not just redeeming and saving people; but that through Jesus death on the cross, God is reconciling all things to himself. Paul, elsewhere, notes this idea of creation, or the created order, being redeemed (Rom 8:20-23). This is important because, as believers, although we are called to evangelize, we are also called to demonstrate in all of our lives and spheres, the redemption of God. As we demonstrate in our lives the redemption of God, we create a portal, a glimpse, into the future Kingdom of God.
This is exactly what Jesus did in his first coming. He inaugurated the kingdom of God—thus that being a major theme and message throughout the Gospels. Jesus gave a glimpse of the kingdom, and through salvation which he purchased, provides the ability for his followers to create a portal in which the world can gaze into the eschatological future. This is why it is important for the church not only to be committed to evangelize, but to be committed to demonstrate in tangible ways the restoration of God’s eschatological kingdom.
One way we do this is through ministries of mercy: eliminating poverty, fighting diseases, aiding disaster hit areas, biblical counseling (dealing with addictions, relational problems, etc.), as well as numerous other areas. Another way we, the church, can do this is by creating structures and institutions that act as portals that display God’s redemption in cultural and social institutions. Examples of this can include schools, businesses, and hospitals, which were all started during the periods of the Great Awakenings in church history. There is so much that I could say regarding the biblical support for why we should do this and what this accomplishes and can accomplish; suffice it to say that culture (and creating culture) is a function of humanity (Gen 1:28).
Thus, the creation of culture, particularly redeemed culture becomes a vehicle by which God extends his glory and becomes a portal by which a watching world can gaze into the future and see aspects of the God’s (future) kingdom. When this happens, the church brings the world to a place, a portal, where they can see the glorious redemptive power of God in restoring a lost and fallen world.